Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax (2012) – Don’t mess with fuzzy.
The Lorax is a parable about the risks of destroying the environment in the attempts to promote commercialism. Unfortunately, this film is as hypocritical as one could be. It is without question one of the most crassly commercialized products produced so far in 2012. The movie has 70 promotional tie-ins. And while they’re trying to balance that with the eco-friendly message of the film, they completely and utterly fail in my opinion.
Within the movie’s context, the grumpy mustached orange beast known as The Lorax (Danny DeVeto) is the guardian of the forest. He appears to The Once-ler (Ed Helms) after the guy cuts down one tree. Lorax says, hey don’t do that. And yet he and all of his fellow forest creatures all invite themselves into his home and enjoy all of the things he used the tree to make. For a moment a deal is struck when the business is up and running that they aren’t going to cut down any more of the forest, but rather harvest what they need responsibly. Though this sequence is ruined as well by stereotyping southern rednecks. Eventually, however, Big Business wins out, along with Greed, and All That Bad Stuff and down come the rest of the woods. Cute critters in peril pretty much dominate this section of the film.
Meanwhile, this is a story all told to a boy who lives in the city made of plastic who really just wants a tree to get laid. In this world, there is a new Big Business selling plastic and air to everyone since the whole world is polluted because of how irresponsible environmentally The Once-ler was. This part of The Lorax is also just as equally pretty mundane. Nothing really stands out except a cute joke here and there, often in the background. There is a nice meaty role for Betty White as the boy’s grandma, but by this point, I think even she’s been exploited enough, hasn’t she?
Look, I don’t want to be a cynical bastard. I’m a left winger who normally would eat this eco-kid-flick up. But it’s simply not a good movie. The animation is passable, but Universal pales in comparison yet to the other names. It feels completely hypocritical to the core to hate on Big Business while being produced by a Huge Ass Media Conglomerate. The songs are some of the worst I’ve ever heard in a kid production. And other than telling people to “shut their mustache” I doubt you’ll even remember you saw the damn thing later on.
My suggestion is to skip The Lorax and go hug a tree.
The Lorax, he speaks for the trees. He speaks out against faceless, all-powerful corporations that rape the land and have no accountability. He takes a passive approach using reason and pleading. He loses in the end, but he’s spoken his mind, the evil Once-ler learns his lesson and spreads the truth (for 15 cents, a nail, and the shell of a great, great, great grandfather snail). But that was back in the hopeful 70s. We got a modern Lorax now, baby!
The new Lorax, voiced by the rasping Danny DeVito, is a wacky little creature that just wants to be friends with the Once-ler. The Once-ler, no longer faceless, is a hopeful lad that wanted to make a useful product and got carried away. Running side plots with villainous mayors and a kid looking for some snogging, the movie meanders through the ideas of The Lorax adding in a host of funny fun fun creatures for the kidlins.
I call this little thought “Missing the Point.” I know the movie attempted to rail against plastics, industry, not planting trees, clean water, clean air, and the general stupidity of Southerners, but it missed the mark by a mile on actually sending a message. Giving the Once-ler a face stripped away the overwhelmingly helpless feeling of fighting against corporations with no real head to cut off and created a single entity to hate. It’s not that simple and Dr. Seuss knew that. There’s more to a company than one person making bad decisions and intentionally ruining the countryside. The other big big huge enormous massive point that the film glossed over in favor of a simple, happy Hollywood ending is the lifespan of the Truffula trees. In the original piece, they take 10 years to germinate, 10 years to become a sampling (growing that nice fuzz), and 10 more to reach maturity and reproduce. That’s a heck of a long time to wait for a tree to grow and over-harvesting could easily wipe it out. In the NEW AND IMPROVED world of The Lorax, the trees take 30 minutes to germinate, 5 days to a sapling, and a few weeks top to reach full maturity and spray 10,000 little seeds all over the place. With growth like that, it’s a wonder they managed to wipe out the trees at all – they’re more like weeds than anything.
Add to “Missing the Point” is “Poor Casting Strikes CGI Again.” Every single voice was force fed in to a mis-matched body with even the dialog not quite matching the lip sync at times. How do you manage that? The only thing I can figure is the film was recorded and animated with competent voice actors, but the studio decided that the usually “let’s fill the poster with names” approach would DEFINITELY sound better. I like Betty White and all, but that was just sad. Hang it up, old woman.
Finally we have “Songs that Suck – a Tribute to John Powell.” I don’t mind a few kids song in a movie, some of them are even fun (see The Muppets), but this just made me hurt. I wasn’t alone. I had the pleasure of watching this movie with a theater packed to the brim with little kids. Their reactions to the trailers made me the most happy I’ve been at the movies in a long long time, but once we got to the film a hush fell over the crowd. Some even asked if they could leave. It was tragic.
Read the book and avoid the film. Books are still better for Gaia than getting an e-reader.